Ch-ch-ch-changes

Time goes by pretty fast if you don’t take the time to look around.

(Time also goes by Clichepretty fast after 40.. how is it almost July??? And where are my glasses).

Grey hair, sore knees, sad eyes and that’s just the dog. Its true I’m starting to resemble him these days, but I refuse to resort to spending my days lying on the sofa farting and snoring… no matter what I feel like.

A few data points from the last year or so to catch you up:

  • 3 new bosses, 13 keynotes, 6 conferences, 18 town halls, 300+ powerpoints and 1TB of new content created.
  • 2 heads of state, 2 ambassadors, 6 tech icons and many of the Fortune 100 CEOs. (Favorite was the Dutch Prime minister who was delicious, weird and still lives with his mother. Wonderful manners).
  • $$$$$ earned. I mean ridiculous.

And in non work life;

  • 11 procedures via 2 shoulder surgeries, 32 weeks of PT, knee cartilage busted
  • 7 glorious weekends in St. Helena, CA
  • 3 dates with men who turned out to be married.
  • 3 apartment moves
  • 1 old flame
  • And I finally saw BRUCE in concert (Springsteen not Hornby and the Range)

And the best thing of all?

I realized I prefer working with and being around nice people over most everything else.

Life is just too short to run behind Mr.Big in 4 inch heels hoping that you’re having some positive impact on someone somewhere. No matter the astonishing people you meet, the innovation you’re absorbed in, the resources available and the learning you do… nothing beats working with a team of people who have your back, who treat you well and who share your values. Seeing the impact of your work. Having a team who knows you and doesn’t think its weird when you lend a hand, offer or ask for help. It makes all the difference.

I’m sure this reads like every cliché in the book.. but its been an eye-opening, life changing 18 months for me.  I’ve always been independent, up for an adventure and embracing of change.. and this time might be the ultimate challenge. Putting my values first and building the life I want around them.

Now.. does anyone have a use for some slightly used high heels?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jobs that Monster thinks I’m suitable for

01 monsterEvery summer, just as I’m starting to return to Planet Earth after ‘the-craziest-hours-ever-no-seriously-I-mean-it’, I tend to look up from my laptop, notice that the trees now have leaves and reconsider my worth in the marketplace.

No, not whether I’m a BOGO or what I could get for standing on the corner of Colfax and 17th at 9pm on a Wednesday.. but what’s out there is the job market, and is there anything to tempt me away from my life of 11 hours in from of a PC, but the freedom to fart at any point without worrying about coworkers.

Now I’ve not had to purchase a single ‘work outfit’ in 4 years (my dog couldn’t even care less if I wore clothes at all) and I do love what I do, so there really is no pressing need to move on, but I still retain the smidgen of ego and ambition I was born with, and I’ve had the occasional Wednesday afternoon wondering what it would be like to actually see a coworker more than once every year.

Which brings me to my summer activity ‘job reviewing’.

I’m not hungry, so there’s no ‘hunt’ involved, but on occasion I do wonder if my title is destined to remain the same for the next 20 years and whether I will still be aligning fonts at the age of 62.. so I set up some RSS feeds, logged on and updated my LinkedIn profile (because that works..not), and reposted my resume to see what bites. It’s actually how I wound up in the job I have now.. and apparently I have the optimism of a millenial with a trust fund in the hope that ‘Perfect Job v2.0’ is also going to land in my inbox.

This year has been an exercise is reevaluating this approach.. and thanking my lucky stars that I’m not actually ‘on the hunt’. Here’s a sampling of Monster’s suggestions for my skill set. Just for some background, I was a management consultant for 17 years and a communications leader for 4 yrs at Fortune 100 companies.. but to Google.. I’m potentially any of the following;

1. Agile Coach

When I first read this, I immediately felt flattered. Maybe my 6 year commitment to yoga and my personal willingness to do anything for my CEO (from helping him grow tomatoes to writing his speeches) had shone through on my resume. I do love guiding and helping people, and while I don’t have much direct experience ‘coaching’ per se.. I was optimistic that somehow, the new field of leadership development was being opened up to me.

Then I read the job description and realized it actually means someone who does a certain type of project management around software development. Yawn. Not so much Agile as ‘willing to be glued to your PC for 12 hours and talk in 3 three acronyms for the next 15 years while surrounded by men in Dockers and bad fitting golf shirts’.  Actually, pretty anti-agile. Mind numbingly static really. Next.

3. Histotechnologist/ PRN

I admit, I actually didn’t know what this was, though my first thought was ‘something to do with history?’ Post Google, I learned it ‘centers on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities. Essentially the perfect job for someone who compulsively worries about their health and overall ‘normalcy’. Oh talk about taking your job home with you.. I’d be self diagnosed with MS, Huntingdons, and Parkinsons’s before the end of the my first day.

But what does a Histo..whatsit..actually do? “As a histotechnologist, you will prepare very thin slices of human, animal or plant tissue for microscopic examination”   How my past 20+ years of writing Powerpoint, talking to clients and trying to put people at ease with change would prepare me for slicing up brains and tumors I’m not sure. But since the certification is only a year, I added it to my growing list of ‘back up plans’. After all, I chop myself an onion pretty fine.. maybe I’d be good at slicing up grey matter? As long as no one is asking me to saute it afterwards, it wouldn’t be so bad?

4. Division Director – Child Support services

Anyone who knows me, knows that I treat children like you would a moving cactus. With extreme caution, thick gloves and sturdy sneakers.. you know, for running away. How Monster thought I could be in charge of ‘child support’  for a whole division I don’t know. Unless that division is ‘middle ages dudes who have the mental age of 12’ then I’m willing to admit I’d be hopeless at this job. (Actually, at this point I’m starting to think that the guys at Monster didn’t actually read my resume at all, and that they’re just shooting me rando jobs in the hope that suddenly I’ll realize my dream to become an insurance salesperson or admin assistant). Me, have responsibility for kids who are risk, who need help and assistance… are you kidding me? Unless it came with a lasso and a stable, I’d be about as useful as a penguin in this role. Next.

5. Drama Instructor

Well, I know I’ve been known to act out, but I take this suggestion with a pinch of salt. I know I kind of made a big deal about my lack of progression at work, and I might have overemphasized the awfulness of a few dates, and yes, I know that I can tend to blow things out of proportion but me? teaching drama? Nooooo. I could never… could I???

6. Taco Bell Shift Lead

Oh now the gloves really come off Monster! Thanks. Thanks a lot. My 4 years of college, my 17 years of 70 hour weeks, hour upon hour of client negotiations and deliverable prep has led to…. supervising the insertion of dog meat into a chulupa? Monitoring the cheese usage? Reordering tortilla chips? Oh thankyou Monster.. I’m flattered that you see the potential in me. Time to take any indicators of ‘customer service’ off my resume.

7. Retirement Plan Lead

Well I can’t say I’m surprised Monster. After all, I am getting older and I have, on occasion, thought about what retirement would look like. You, clearly, have me already moving fast on the downslope of my career. After all, why not get more prepared and informed about how I’ll be living on cat food and the leftovers at Chiplote come age 65.  Now I don’t know a damn thing about numbers and Excel screams with laughter when I open a new spreadsheet, but I’m sure I could pick it up. And I’m betting their dress code is pretty lax as long as your Depends adult diapers don’t show through.

So I think I’ll sit on my hands this summer. Maybe just enjoy having a job a love, coworkers who make me laugh and sure, I could be a VP of Corporate Communications somewhere, but I could also be a Taco Bell shift lead. I’ll take my chances and stay where I am. You know, until I have a hankering for a Gordito.

 

Always, always read the job description

Always read the job description

I like applying for jobs. I love the idea that in 3-6 weeks you could be doing something completely different with a whole new group of people, hell even in a completely different country. I love the challenge of matching myself to the impossible profile (I always ask – who has this amount of experience, like ever?) and even during interviews, I get a kick from the challenge of wooing the interviewer. Just like dating really.  Luckily I’m a lot more successful with interviews than with dates.

But it wasn’t always like this. As with most things in life, I got good by being really really bad first. Then slightly less bad. Then eventually.. years later.. it gets better. Two things I learned that I never forget: Always have a clear idea of what you can do, what you are willing to do, and what you’re expected to do. And always, always read the f-king job description.

My first office job
It sounded good. A holiday job during college summer term working for the courts (not washing dishes or serving pizza!) from 8-5pm. It paid my rent and enabled me to actually pay down some debt, making me less scared to pick up the phone or pray when using the ATM. I wasn’t sure what it involved and the lady had just mentioned ‘paperwork’ and some phone calls. I figured I’d be typing or filing or some nonsense. The first day I realized that the job was a doozy. Just typing up and mailing out letters to people.
Except... the letters let them know they were being evicted from their houses in 5 days. And 3 days. And tomorrow. On Tuesdays I would get to man the ‘inquiries line’ where I was asked to not provide any legal advice (like I had any?) or assure people that there was a short cut to avoiding eviction (something I was told to make me feel better about doing this, but a simple fact I was not allowed to relay). On Tuesdays I got to listen to people weeping on the phone, tales from 7 month pregnant women with 3 other kids who worked in diners and gas stations. Men who had broken parole to see their kids or whose employment was contingent on them having an actual address. I got to listen to them all day and give them no information other than to tell them to seek legal counsel. I then got to mail them their scary red eviction notices on Wednesdays through Fridays.
Lets just say I was on Paxil by the third week and I realized there are jobs you can do, but jobs you don’t need to do.

My Internship 
Internships in the UK are relatively rare. There are few, they pay extraordinarily well and competition is fierce. But I’m a dogged bitch and so I wasn’t surprised to hear that I’d be shortlisted for a marketing internship at Rolls Royce. I could picture it – me, walnut interiors, leather seats.. marketing a classic English luxury ? Yep.. it was going to be tough.

Except… Rolls Royce also makes aeroplane engines.  Which I didn’t realize until I showed up for my day long interview. Which means that all of my knowledge, my passion for classic cars and all things automotive was pretty much useless. Within the hour I had to present to a group of 10 executives my thoughts on the history of the company, explain how a jet engine worked (this was in the days before the internet) and the key selling points of their product.  I still don’t know to this day how planes even get off the ground.. so you can imagine how eloquent and informative that speech was. 

But it got worse.

I also had to take tests in physics, aerodynamics and advanced math PLUS draw the interior of a jet engine. I had, at this time, been on a plane once. I knew that an engine was the thing attached to the wing, but other than it being circular… no clue?????

Lets just say my knowledge of 6 cylinder engines and walnut interiors didn’t come in very handy and I don’t think that the interior of any jet engine involves derailers or chain rings as my illustration showed. How they didn’t fall about laughing at my description of how a jet engine worked I don’t know. 24 years later I still want to die when I think of my rotational arm gestures, sound effects and I think I may have even jumped in the air at one point to illustrate lift.

Not sure I was marketing much beyond stupidity at that point. 

My first adult job

In my final year at college, I was sure that I was heading into Marketing. Marketing was sexy, cool and after my 6 month internship with Unilever, I was sure I had a job locked down.  When I found out the job wasn’t mine, I decided that management consulting was a good next step. It was kind of like Marketing right?. It involved ‘blagging’ about stuff, putting a good spin on things. And older gentlemen did always find me endearing. I was sure the CEO of Shell Oil would find me charming as I shared my thoughts on company strategy and marketing effectiveness. I mean, consulting was just stating the obvious wasn’t it?

On my first day, the first speaker at orientation rose and said with a laugh ‘ Now just let me check – do we have anyone in the room who thinks that they’re going to be sitting down with CEOs?’
Peals of laughter ricocheted around the room and I shrank 3 inches in my seat. What in hells name had I a signed up for if it didn’t involve boardrooms and CEOs? Flashes of my Rolls Royce interview bombarded my brain. Oh shiiiiiiit.
Turns out ‘management consulting’ is actually a whole lot of math.  And computers. And coding. And more math. And logic. And sitting in basements with 100 other drones trying to make code ‘compile’ at 11pm. No CEOs in the basement. In fact no CEOs for 10 years…And at 41, I’ve still not sat down with the CEO in the boardroom and told him my thoughts on his strategy.
My entire career.. build on a misunderstanding of what I thought I would be expected to do.

But I still work in consulting and I do love what I do. Plus these days I get to look around the room during orientations to see the ‘me’ who’s just realized she won’t be sitting at a walnut table with a grey haired executive any time soon.

And there’s always one. Bless.

When is grey ok?

Now that eHarmony has told me that I need to move in order to find that special someone, I started to daydream myself across Monster.com
and I noticed that there are some insanely cool jobs out there. I mean – exciting stuff –  for which I have absolutely no qualifications.

  • VP of Social Networks and Community – basically find ways for people to connect to each other through stuff like Facebook. 
  • Chief Employee Engagement Lead – find ways to make employees happy… (as a job??? wow!)
  • Senior Director of CEO Communications – the chance to be main puppeteer for a head honcho…
  • VP of Global Change – growing an international business into South America.. (I can order a taco and I can shoot a 9mm.. I’m sure that’s applicable)

All of these jobs are out there and looking for candidates. But I don’t have the qualifications for any of these cool jobs and frankly, I’d be terrified to meet anyone who did, especially when I scan the actual requirements for the positions.

  • 20 years corporate communications experience, 10 years supporting CEO of Fortune 50 company, 10 years working in international locations
  • 15-20 years management consulting experience at top tier firm
  • MBA or MA in communications, media relations or marketing
  • Fluency in Spanish, French and Portuguese
  • Must be willing to kick ass in 17 countries simultaneously

No, not scary at all. I mean really.. I have a good resume, but where do these people come from??? Have they had a day off since birth??

I’m an ex consultant.. we thrive on ‘figuring shit out’. I mean I didn’t know how to use a video camera last year and now our company has its own TV channel populated by videos that I made and edited. I conducted an entire relationship through text messaging and I read a great article on the cloud in the New Yorker a few months back…I could do this stuff couldn’t I?
I’ve helped clients built marketing systems that figured out who would buy a Ford Focus, and I once built a banking center in Minneapolis (despite my lack of ability to balance my checkbook). I’ve hired insurance adjusters, laid off accountants, reorganized medical technologists and even launched an organization or two.

How hard can it be to figure this other stuff out?  Thats what YouTube is for.
This weekend I learned how to dig a root cellar and curl my hair.. I’m sure they’ve got something on ‘cloud’ building or recording a podcast. I know I could do this stuff… its just.. well … not on my resume because I haven’t already done it. I love learning… couldn’t they trust me to get it done?

Which is where the question of grey comes in.

I’m black and white person. There is a clear line of right and wrong, and lying on a resume is just … well wrong. And yes, I know that everyone expands their experience on their resume but to date, I’ve never put anything on an application that wasn’t 110% true.
I can’t…. its like my brain would explode with fear that my mother might find out and call my potential employer to let them know and also share that I’m really impatient and prone to swearing a lot. I’d love to pad my resume.. suggest that I have experiences that warrant me hirable for some of these sexy jobs out there… but my conscience won’t let me  and I don’t think ‘haven’t done it, but know I could!’ is going to get me in the door. Maybe if I were selling encyclopedias… but not writing speeches for Senators.

So I’m stuck.. when I see these opportunities out there, just waiting for the taking I salivate and wonder.. how black and white do I really need to be these days? Surely grey is acceptable for some of this stuff that isn’t exactly rocket science. Its not like I’m saying I have experience with brain surgery… and really, how hard can it be? If I wanted to make a leap.. at 41 haven’t I earned the right to know my capabilities… ? Is grey really wrong?

Plus, how hard could Portuguese be?

I will not be getting promoted (again)

 Its that time of year again, when your HR director sends out reminders and once again, you grit your teeth and try to remember what you did last year (outside of a startling consumption of coffee).
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had the same job title now for over 10 years and despite year on year mumbling about promotion, its now less likely than my upcoming marriage to Edward Norton (no Mum.. that was a joke).

Why? Because I just can’t take it as seriously as everyone else. I love my job. I love my company (and no, there is no gun at my head), and I really enjoy the people I work with. But I just think most of the things I worry about, red lining documents through 13 iterations, re-edits at 11pm, Saturday morning CEO calls… well its just not that important. Some of it is downright silly. Evidence? Oh sit down for this…

Some of the activities I did this year as part of my job;

  • Videoed and edited my executive leadership team singing the 12 days of Christmas
  • Spent a few hours researching words in every language which ‘imply connectivity, coming together, spider web-ish, networked’ in order to name a document
  • Hosted a photo shoot for a newly slim male senior executive who didn’t want a fat picture in the corporate yearbook (and yes, I had to utter the words ‘look at me over your shoulder’)
  • Found a way to not mention gay people in a corporate communication about supporting gay people
  • Taught my boss and several senior executives how to Skype each other
  • Tried to get a donation from NPR
  • Informed a junior resource that ‘fit people’ weren’t an ethnic group..
  • … and neither were ‘fat people’
  • Asked 3 interns to stop their parents calling me with their HR questions
  • Educated senior executives on the concept and use of a calendar
  • Provided coaching to an executive who claimed ‘everybody hates me no matter what I say’
  • Ran alongside the CEO taking notes as he walked and smoked a cigar
  • Endured a ‘lady date’ with a non English speaking female executive, who after 3 drinks asked me how to meet men in Denver

Its a bizarre job. Its ridiculously fun sometimes, but I think I knew my career was over the day I was brushing dandruff off an executives neck before he took the stage at a conference.
Wonder if I can include that in my self review?